The size of a group (whether ethnic, racial, interest, or ideological) in U.S. society is certainly important in determining outcomes requiring majority support, but size alone does not guarantee influence.
The United States population is comprised of immigrants. Today, it has a population of over 300 million people; it is the world’s third most populated country. Like in most countries, the United States of America follows democratic form of governance where the will of the majority is followed in most cases. The presidential elections and referendums are carried out in order to determine the course that the country should follow. This makes it important for the campaigners to come up with strategies that would see to it that they solicit votes from the whole population.
The power struggle in the US has intensified in the recent past. Different researchers have asked the question, who actually rules the United States. One answer has been evident. The people who are wealthy and have resources are the rulers. As the country population increases progressively, the battle for ownership of natural resources reduces since those who have the resources can not let them go. This means that those who do not have the resources have to obtain other means to become wealthy and this has been through professionalism and corporate minds they possess. The group of elites in the society that includes farmers, business people, researchers and scientists rules the United States. They are the employers and they influence the policy making process due to their personal interests. The low-income earners have nowhere to make the important policy decisions and they are left at the mercy of the already wealthy people.
The groups of these socially prominent people are not large in numbers. They are composed of a very small percentage of the whole US population. On the other hand, the low-income earners comprise of millions of people, yet their influence is little. Therefore, the ability of a group to influence the political atmosphere in the United States is not determined by their numbers but the social strength of the members. The strength to influence is brought about by power, which results from economic ability of the people. It is a very rare occasions that financially weak people get the power. A good example is the Washington Bush family. Bush was among the biggest landowners of that time. He was a farmer and employed a significant number of people in his estates. This gave him power and ability to clinch his presidency. However, this does not mean that power belongs to the rich only. In rare but available cases, low-income earners also get into power when their fellow country men decide that it was time for them to taste power despite their weak social status especially through elections.
How do demographic and institutional characteristics shape actual and potential political power of groups in U.S. society?
The demographic and institutional characteristics of the population in the U.S. have a significant influence on the political powers of the different political groups. Demographics refer to the characteristics of the individual members of the group while institutional characteristics refer to the characteristics and mandate of the institutions. The influence that a certain group has on the economy determines the political flow. However, the poor majority has been convinced that they have equal rights through pluralism and feel that they have an equal share in running the country as the wealthy or upper class. The reason is that they are constitutionally allowed to vote, lobby and involve themselves in the opposition to the government. However, realistically speaking, the U.S. is among the countries where the wealthy control the politics of the country through their economic ability. Some of the reasons are discussed below.
Firstly, there are social segregations where the upper class members develop institutions for the wealthy alone. Their children are automatically assimilated in these institutions and those who work their way above the others in the society to become rich are also assimilated. Secondly, the rich usually control the wealthy corporations. The corporations form the primary wealth base of today and the next over 150 years. Thirdly, members of the high or upper class have formed a network that comprises of many non-profit organizations. Through these organizations, the upper class and the people who have been hired to head these organizations create and shape debates regarding policies in the United States. Fourthly, the members of the group dominate the federal government from Washington. This, they do with the help and collusion with the top management teams from both the profit making and non-profit making organizations. Despite all these powers they bestow on themselves, the rich still assert that they have no political power or control in the U.S. and claim to be even lower that the common or low income earners which is clearly untrue. The working classes who are employed in these corporations are left powerless and their only democratic right that they exercise is voting and freedom of speech.
In your opinion, and based on the evidence that you have presented, does the pluralism created by the democracy enshrined in the U.S. Constitution ensure compromise and moderation? Why or why not?
James Madison stated that the most important feature of a free and stable government was not its balance in powers but without these balances, the equilibrium in the passions and interests of the society in question was impossible. His ideology was the basis of the constitutional democracy in the United States. Madison looked forward for a government that would strike a balance between all the features of the American constitutional design. This would ultimately lead to the balance of the citizen freedom and their equality. In his view, pluralism was the best way to move the country where power would be equally bestowed upon all the individuals in the country. Pluralism in the United States therefore has not been fully executed and the democracy that was intended by Madison has not yet been felt. From the evidence provided above, the Constitution is broken and the desired initial goal is not achieved.